Friday, September 2, 2011

Mt. Orford National Park - Part One

Living in northern Vermont has many advantages, one of which is our close proximity to Quebec and its Route Verte, a system of wonderful bicycle trails. In August our family spent four days at Mont Orford National Park.

Right from our campground we hooked up with Route Verte 1. It was a fun ride of rolling hills and turns. Because it was hot we drank lots of water and took breaks. My youngest plopped himself in the middle of the path to eat a granola bar.

This is a main cycling route through the park with crisscrossing hiking and cross country skiing trails. We kept busy reading signs, dodging squirrels, and whooping it up on the downhills. Our youngest boy spotted this 4 inch long centipede. On close inspection (but don't touch it-they bite) green and red stripes colored the entire body length. His red legs moved quickly. Our son, ever kind to anything living, grabbed a stick and moved the centipede off the trail.

Both boys became competitive and jockeyed for first place, somewhat recklessly too. As parents we constantly reminded them that it was not a race. I talked with them about using the back brake first so they wouldn't go flying over the handlebars.

Towards the end of the trail I stopped with my youngest son to wait for the others. My boy became antsy, explored  a ravine, then went up the rise to alert me when the rest of our family was coming so I could snap photos.  Five minutes later, just when I was beginning to wonder what took them so long, my son yelled and bolted down the hill.

My husband came first and  mentioned that there was an accident.

A moment later, my oldest son cautiously descended and stopped beside us.

He mumbled, still a bit dazed, about how he hit his head on a log, though he wasn't clear what sent him over the handlebars. He was fascinated with the fact that it happened in slow motion. My husband said he heard a crash behind him and went back to find our son in a ditch with the bike on top of him. His leg was scraped from knee to ankle and he showed me his bent brake lever. Amongst all the explanations I was relieved that he didn't break any bones.

Photo taken at our house of his bent brake lever.
We pedaled the final bit to the visitors center where my oldest cleaned his leg in the bathroom. He looked out the window while washing and spied a fat woodchuck grazing on the lawn. I knew everything would be all right when he came out and we went outdoors to look for it. My son was limping a bit and his leg was stiff, so he didn't want to pedal anymore. His neck hurt too. My husband and other son returned on the paved road and brought back the car.

We all rode in the car a few miles to Magog for groceries, just as dark clouds were building and swirling overhead. What is it that we love about a new-to-us grocery store? All four of us marveled at the different produce, local apples, cheese curds, and dark chocolate covered fresh blueberries (those were absolutely yummy). I immediately noticed the 6-8 bikes on display above the produce aisle. At first I thought they were also selling bikes, but it turns out it's advertising for a nearby bike shop.

So with unique food in hand, we bolted through the parking lot puddles, and  light rain just as the pink sky turned darker. We drove a mile to Magog's waterfront, picknicked in the car, watched the cloud formations, listened to thunder, just as a train rumbled by with all sorts of interesting graffiti, and finally cars of animals at the end.

That was only the first day!


  1. Oh my. I hope your son is ok. Remember to tell them to shift their weight as far back on the seat when descending downhill and to just slightly pulse their brakes.

  2. The above invertebrate is a millipede, not a centipede. FYI.


Due to increased Spam, I am moderating comments. Thank you for your patience.